Deliberately Slow: The Art of Slowing Down

In this episode of The Balanced Leader Podcast, I discuss the constant rush many leaders experience and the importance of slowing down for overall wellbeing and effective leadership. 

I talk about my own personal struggles with always being in a hurry and highlight the benefits of adopting a slower pace, including improved mental clarity, emotional intelligence, and problem-solving abilities. I outline some of the practical tips that have helped me, including practicing mindfulness, scheduling regular breaks, and unplugging from technology. 

Maybe there’s some deeper work we need to be doing, to fully understand why we feel the need to be constantly rushing. And maybe, there is more of an art to slowing down than just the science!


00:07  Welcome to The Balanced Leader Podcast

00:17  The Rush of Daily Life: A Personal Example

02:08  Understanding the Need to Slow Down

04:32  Practical Tips for Slowing Down

07:47  Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Podcast about Deliberately Slow: The Art of Slowing Down


[00:00:00] This is The Balanced Leader Podcast, the podcast that helps leaders elevate their wellbeing and create healthier workplaces. My name is Rob Hills, and I’m your leadership and wellbeing coach. I want to talk a bit today about something that I struggle with in my own life. And something that I’ve made a commitment to recently, to improving on.

[00:00:26] I don’t know about you, but I constantly seem to be rushing from one thing to the next. It feels like from the moment that I wake up until I hit the couch at night time, I’m just moving at like a frenetic pace. My morning routine, which I’ve talked about in another episode on this podcast, has me trying to fit the most amount of things possible I can in a short period of time before I have to rush out the door for work.

[00:00:54] Then, I rush to get to work. As soon as I get to work, I’m rushing to unpack and then log on. When I leave for the day, I rush to get out the door. I rush to get the kids. I make them dinner. I help them with their homework. I clean up. I prep for the next day. I get them in bed. So then I can have half an hour or an hour on the couch to myself before I go to bed and then have to do it all over again.

[00:01:21] I sometimes feel like I need to give myself a speeding ticket. Slow down, Rob. Why are you going so fast? I love the quote, which is often attributed to John Lennon in one of his songs. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. That’s really meaningful. So I’m going to say it again. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

[00:01:44] And that’s how my life feels sometimes. I’m so busy rushing to get through this thing, so I can rush to get to the next thing, and the next thing. And I really don’t want to get to the end of my life, and look back and know I just kind of rushed through it, to get through it. Like, what a waste. You hear about people having regrets on their deathbed.

[00:02:04] I really don’t want this to be one of mine. So why do I do it? That’s a bloody great question. I think part of it is because I’m ex military, so I like to be on time. There’s a saying in the military that goes, if you’re not five minutes early, then you’re late. So I think I have that ingrained in my psyche that I’ve always got to be on time or I’ve always got to be hitting those time marks.

[00:02:29] I’m trying to fit too much in and that’s around my ongoing quest to optimise my life and get all the things in that I want to get to be efficient as possible and to be effective. The next one is expectations. And that’s the little voice in my head where I feel like people expect me to be a certain way, whether that relates to how much I get done in my day or when and how I show up.

[00:02:57] And the last one, as I discussed in my episode with Tracy Seacombe, I’m a people pleaser. So I don’t want to let anybody I want to make sure that I’ve done everything I said I would, and not disappoint anyone. How about you? Do any of these sound familiar? Why do you rush? I’m really curious to know, so reach out on social media and let me know.

[00:03:20] I’ll be posting about being deliberately slow this week, so hit me up. But my guess here is that I’m not alone. I think a lot of leaders feel constantly bombarded with demands, and pressures, both internal and external, and a cultural emphasis that places value on productivity and looking busy. We’ve been conditioned to believe that busyness equates to productivity.

[00:03:47] And if you don’t look busy, then clearly you aren’t working hard enough. But what if the key to better leadership and a more fulfilling life Lies in the art of slowing down. There are numerous studies that have shown that slowing down can actually enhance our leadership abilities and our overall wellbeing.

[00:04:08] When we take the time to pause and be present, we experience improved mental clarity, uh, focus, increased emotional intelligence and self-awareness. and also enhance creativity and the ability to solve problems. That really makes sense to me, and I think I’d be hard pressed to find someone who disagrees with that.

[00:04:30] So how do we do it? Let’s get tactical. How can we integrate the practice of slowing down into our busy lives? For me, and this is like a lot of things I talk about, it starts with awareness. It’s catching myself when I’m rushing and deliberately choosing, making a conscious choice, to go slower. It’s funny, I can feel it in my body when I’m rushing.

[00:04:54] It’s like a nervous energy or a buzzing. My wife and I recently went away for a weekend without the kids. Shortly after we arrived, we sat down on the deck and it was just completely surrounded by nature and we just stopped. And it was after a minute or so, I said to my wife, I know we’ve stopped, but I can still feel my body buzzing.

[00:05:16] Have you ever had that before? I’m happy to report that it didn’t actually take that long and the buzzing did go away, which was nice, but that flows nicely into mindfulness by training our minds to stay present and focus. We can cultivate a sense of calm amid all the chaos around us. For me, my mind is kinda like a puppy, and I’m trying to teach it to sit on a mat.

[00:05:40] And whatever I do, he just doesn’t want to stay put. So, by using mindfulness tools, We can train our puppy to keep coming back to the mat again and again, no matter how many times he runs away. Scheduling regular breaks and downtime is another one, and that’s also another conscious effort. What works for me is blocking out time or weekends in my calendar.

[00:06:05] And yes, sometimes it’s a little bit easier when you can go away for a weekend without the kids. The next one is unplugging from technology, and I’m putting my hand up here because I struggle with this one too. Most of my life seems to happen on a device, whether it’s work, pleasure, doing this podcast, I constantly seem to be attached to a device.

[00:06:28] But there are some great tips in my episode with Dr. Christy Goodwin that you may want to revisit. I know I need to. Now, I know what you might be thinking, that’s all well and good, but I simply don’t have the luxury of slowing down. I think it’s a misconception that slowing down means we’re sacrificing productivity or even letting opportunities slip away.

[00:06:51] The truth is when we’re operating from a place of clarity, focus, and just generally overall feeling good, we’re far more effective and able to make better decisions. And I’m not discounting that there is some deeper work for me to be done in this space, and maybe for you too. And some simple slowing down techniques won’t necessarily unravel all my darker beliefs about why I need to keep rushing to conform or to please other people.

[00:07:20] That work is ongoing, and it’s highly personalised for each individual. So if you feel like that as well, I encourage you to journal, uh, meditate, Talk with a friend or professional, someone that’s going to help you get to the bottom of what some of those beliefs are and whether they still serve you or not.

[00:07:38] I really don’t want to say this, but there’s no better words that come to mind at the moment, so I’m going to say it. It’s a journey. It’s ongoing. So as we wrap up today’s episode, I want to leave you with this thought. Embracing a slower pace isn’t a sign of weakness or laziness. It’s actually a powerful tool for better leadership and a more fulfilling life.

[00:08:01] You are going to have to confront some of your own inner critic and even some of those cultural norms in the workplace, but it’s so important. So take that first step today, whether it’s scheduling a break, unplugging from your technology, or simply just taking a few deep breaths. I promise you your future self is going to thank you.

[00:08:25] I really hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode. Again, I’d love to hear any techniques that you’re using that you find useful, or even if you just want to let me know that you’re joining me in trying to cultivate a practice of being deliberately slow, that would be awesome. Enjoy the rest of your day. And I look forward to speaking with you next time.